[QODLink]
Middle East

Migrants rally outside Israeli parliament

Africans continue their protests, demanding recognition as refugees and opposing state policy of long-term detention.

Last updated: 08 Jan 2014 21:04
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

African migrants have gathered outside Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, demanding to be recognised as refugees and protesting against the government's policy of long-term detention.

Wednesday's demonstration was "calm", Micky Rosenfeld, Israel's police spokesman, told AFP news agency, adding that police were deployed to keep order. He put the number of protesters at "more than 10,000".

Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman, reporting from Jerusalem, said: "This is, according to the police, one of the largest assemblies of protest to have been held outside the Knesset.

"It's the fourth day of their strike and they're all saying they have no intention of giving up their struggle.

"Law enforcement has been relatively lenient and there has been no instance of friction or violence."

This week has seen two other protests in Tel Aviv by the migrants, who want the right to work and better treatment from the Israeli government.

Tens of thousands of migrants, most from Eritrea and Sudan, have come to Israel in recent years, either to flee conflict or to seek employment.

"Israel has the lowest refugee recognition rate in the world," our correspondent said.

"The government says these people, no matter what they say about being politically oppressed, are coming here as economic opportunists.

"The government says if they stay, they will affect the future character of Israel. There is no room for compromise."

On December 10, Israel's parliament approved a law permitting authorities to detain migrants without valid visas indefinitely.

More than 300 migrants have been arrested since the new law went into effect, and dozens more have been summoned for detention, the UN refugee agency said.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Walpurga Englbrecht, UNHCR's representative in Israel, criticised the policy of incarceration of migrants, saying it caused "hardship and suffering" and was "not in line with" a 1951 world treaty on the treatment of refugees.

"Placing asylum-seekers in duress that may force them to opt to return without having examined their asylum claims could amount to a violation" of international refugee conventions," Englbrecht said.

Englbrecht also criticised Israel's official description of migrants as "infiltrators", saying most were refugees or deserved international protection.

351

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list